The Canberra Raiders NYC side will be looking to bounce back this Saturday against the New Zealand Warriors after conceding their second loss in a row last week against the North Queensland Cowboys.
Going up against the second best side in the competition was going to be tough enough, yet injuries throughout the team’s line-up made the challenge even harder against the Cowboys.
Captain and attacking lynchpin, Lachlan Croker, left the game in the first half after sustaining a shoulder injury and will be greatly missed ahead of their game in New Zealand. Croker will be replaced at halfback by talented utility and local junior Jack Hickson.
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The Warriors are renowned as having a monster team in the Under 20’s and the Raiders will need to muscle up if they are to get the crucial two competition points which will enable the Green Machine to stay just inside the top eight.
One player who stepped up last weekend was Cleveland McGhie, who had a noticeable impact after being moved from the forwards out to centre and wing after Croker’s withdrawal forced a backline reshuffle.
Standing at 192 centimetres and weighing in at 100 kilograms, McGhie has no issue’s playing in the front or second row but prefers to play out wider at centre or wing given that that is where he grew up playing.
Whilst moving from the outside backs into the forwards can be a tough transition for most, McGhie seems to be taking the challenges in his stride and has put his hand up to playing in either positions just as long as he remains in the top 17.
“I don’t think size or strength is a problem for me if I move into the forwards, the workload is definitely different but if you look at the NRL at the moment the players on the outside are becoming the taller, athletic build,” he said.
McGhie has been selected on the wing this week however where his size will be of great use against the big rumbling pack of the Warriors. Cleveland said that he was excited to be back in the side after debuting last year and believes that he has a lot to give to the Raiders attacking structure.
“I think I bring energy and enthusiasm,” McGhie said. “I’ve been waiting all year to get my opportunity to crack into the side after sitting on the sidelines watching the boys play so it’s great to finally get my chance in the starting team.
“I don’t want to let my opportunity go to waste, I want to play my best football and show the boys that they can trust me to come into the squad and fill in the gaps properly.”
This Saturday’s game is a crucial one for the Green Machine if they are to stay in the top eight and McGhie believes that the game is a winnable one and one that can help get their season back on track.
“It’s a game that we can definitely win and we’ve got the team there to do it, we just need to have a little more belief in ourselves,” the former Under 16’s NSW Indigenous representative said.
“It’s always tough to go over there and get the two points, but for us it is possible, it’s just about playing to our potential and doing all the little things right in the lead up.”
Cleveland McGhie hasn’t seen many minutes in the NYC side thus far in 2015 but he said he wanted to make this opportunity count after regaining his form playing for the Woden Valley Rams in the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup.
“For me I want to become more consistent, if you want to be playing at the top level you have to be giving your best performance week in, week out,” the 19 year old said.
“I definitely now want to take this opportunity to stay consistent and put in big efforts in games week in, week out and move forward from that.”
With a forward pack as big as the Warriors, players such as McGhie will be integral in the side’s ability to provide a strong platform for the side at the start of their sets with the momentum gained from the winger’s powerful kick returns scoots out of dummy half.
The Raiders are currently sitting 8th on the Under 20’s ladder with only points differential keeping them afloat in the top eight. A win this weekend against the Warriors will go a long way towards making a statement in the competition as well as keeping their finals hopes alive.